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Connecticut Passes Law Legalizing Cannabis

Published:  July 1, 2021

Connecticut passed a new law legalizing cannabis. Effective July 1, 2021, individuals will be able to lawfully possess, use, and consume recreational cannabis.

Smoking Restrictions

The law contains provisions restricting smoking that will affect employers. These provisions will go into effect October 1, 2021.

All employers must ban smoking and the use of electronic nicotine and cannabis vaping products in any area of their facility. Employers can no longer designate a smoking room for employees. The law applies to the inside of buildings as well as 25 feet from any doorway, window, or vent. Exceptions are limited and include tobacco or cannabis research facilities and specific licensed establishments. Employers also have the option to designate their entire property as a nonsmoking area.

Employment-Related Provisions

Another section of the law contains several provisions that will affect employers and their employment policies. These provisions will be effective July 1, 2022.

  • Employers can implement policies prohibiting the use of cannabis by employees, except for qualified patients under the state’s medical marijuana laws. Any such policy must be in writing and be made available to employees and prospective employees before it goes into effect.
  • Employers cannot terminate or take any adverse action against an employee because the employee uses cannabis outside the workplace, except when an employer has an established policy in place. 
  • Employers cannot terminate or take any adverse action against an employee or prospective employee for using cannabis prior to employment, unless it would put the employer in violation of a federal contract. 
  • The law affirms that employers have the right to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace and that employers may take adverse action when they have a reasonable suspicion of an employee’s cannabis use while working or when an employee shows “specific, articulable symptoms” of cannabis use while working. 
  • Employers can terminate or take adverse action against an employee after a positive drug test if the employer has a reasonable suspicion the employee is using cannabis at work, if the testing was part of an established random drug testing policy, or if the testing was for a prospective employee with a conditional job offer.

Certain employers are exempt, including: mining, utilities, construction, manufacturing, transportation/delivery, educational services, healthcare or social services, and justice, public order, and safety activities.

The law also exempts certain employee positions, including: firefighters, EMTs, police officers, positions requiring operation of a motor vehicle that requires drug testing under state or federal law, positions requiring certification of completion of a course in construction safety and health approved by OSHA, positions requiring supervision or care of children, medical patients or vulnerable persons, positions for which the law would conflict with federal law, positions funded by a federal grant, or if the provisions would conflict with an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, and  positions that an employer determines have the potential to adversely impact the health or safety of employees or the public.

Individuals aggrieved by an employer’s violation of the law can bring a civil action in superior court and may be awarded reinstatement their job or job offer, back pay, and attorney’s fees.   

For any questions or concerns about this new Connecticut law, please contact the attorneys at The Royal Law Firm at 413-586-2288.